Snap out of it!

A while back, following a keynote speech and during Q&A, someone in the audience asked a heartfelt, yet somewhat rhetorical question.
“So, how do I communicate to people that our approach, our culture, needs to change?”
My immediate impulse was to hit her with a stick.
Like Zen masters reportedly would do to knock someone out of her attachment to conventional reasoning.
But I was on a stage and far from her.
And anyway, I didn’t have a stick.
So, I gave her a koan-like question to ask “those people.”
A seemingly self-evident one designed to snap them out of it, to open their minds.
“Ask them if your organization, your culture, is producing the results it is designed to produce?”
As I glanced around the auditorium for a reaction, all I could sense was collective confusion.
And their visceral desire to shout out the, apparently, obvious response.
“Of course it’s not, idiot. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have asked you that question.”
But no one dared blurt that out.
Instead, they just sat there, perplexed.
Because they were deluded.
They believed that their organization was NOT producing the results it was designed to produce.
And they assumed that the reason had something to do with their people, with them.
In fact, their organization is producing precisely the results it is designed to produce.
So is yours.
So is your community, your family, your government, your country.
So is your life.
Because . . . the design determines the results.
So snap out of it!
Stop fighting the existing reality.
Stop trying to change the people.
Stop trying to change your mind.
If you don’t like the results, change the design.
The great systems theorist and designer Buckminster Fuller put it this way.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
To change your beliefs, change your behavior.

Tom Asacker